A VITELLOGENIN ANTIBODY IN HONEY BEES (APIS MELLIFERA) Characterization and application as potential biomarker for insecticide exposure: Vitellogenin as potential biomarker for insecticide exposure
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The insect yolk precursor vitellogenin is a lipoglycoprotein synthesized and stored in the fat body and secreted into the hemolymph. In honey bees, vitellogenin displays crucial functions in hormone signaling, behavioral transition of nurse bees to foragers, stress resistance, and longevity in workers. Plant protection products such as neonicotinoids, pyrethroids, and organophosphates alter the transcriptional expression of vitellogenin. To assess plant protection product‐induced alterations on the protein level, we developed a rabbit polyclonal vitellogenin antibody. After characterization, we assessed its specificity and vitellogenin levels in different tissues of worker bees. The vitellogenin antibody recognized full‐length 180‐kDa vitellogenin and the lighter fragment of 150 kDa in fat body, hemolymph, and brain. In hemolymph, a band of approximately 75 kDa was detected. Subsequent mass spectrometric analysis (liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry) confirmed the 180‐ and 150‐kDa bands as vitellogenin. Subsequently, we evaluated vitellogenin expression in brain, fat body, and hemolymph on 24‐h exposure of bees to 3 ng/bee to the neonicotinoid clothianidin. Full‐length vitellogenin was upregulated 3‐fold in the fat body, and the 150‐kDa fragment was upregulated in the brain of exposed honey bees, whereas no alteration occurred in the hemolymph. Upregulation of the vitellogenin protein by the neonicotinoid clothianidin is in line with the previously shown induction of its transcript. We conclude that vitellogenin might serve as a potential biomarker for neonicotinoid and other pesticide exposure in bees. Environ Toxicol Chem 2019;00:1–10. © 2019 SETAC